if possible, the truth of such reports, and at the same time crossed the Sixth Corps to the south side of Cedar Creek and occupied the heights above Strasburg. Considerable picket-firing ensued. During the day I received from Colonel Chipman, of the Adjutant-General's Office, the following dispatch, he having ridden with great haste from Washington, through Snicker's Gap, escorted by a regiment of cavalry, to deliver the same. It at once explained the movement from Culpeper, and on the morning of the 15th the remaining two brigades of Merritt's division of cavalry were ordered to the crossing of the Shenandoah River near Front Royal, and the Sixth Corps withdrawn to the north side of Cedar Creek, holding at Strasburg a strong skirmish line:
CITY POINT, August 12, 1864 - 9 a. m.
Inform Sheridan that it is now certain two division of infantry have gone to Early, and some cavalry and twenty pieces of artillery. This movement commenced last Saturday night. He must be cautions and act now on the defensive until movements here force them to this* to send this way. Early's force, with this increase, cannot exceed 40,000 men, but this is too much for Sheridan to attack. Send Sheridan the remaining brigade of the Nineteenth Corps. I have ordered to Washington all the 100-days' men. Their time will soon be out, but, for the present, they will do to serve in the defenses.
U. S. GRANT,
The receipt of this dispatch was very important to me, as I possibly would have remained in uncertainty as to the character of the force coming in on my flank and rear until it attacked the cavalry, as it did on the 16th. I at once looked over the map of the Valley for a defensive line-that is, where a smaller number of troops could hold a greater number - and could see but one such. I refer to that at Halltown, in front of Harper's Ferry. Subsequent experience has convinced me that no other really defensive line exists in the Shenandoah Valley. I therefore determined to move back to Halltown, carry out my instructions to destroy forage and subsistence, and increase my strength by Grover's division, of the Nineteenth Corps, and Wilson's division of cavalry, both of which were marching to join me via Snicker's Gap. Emory was ordered to move to Winchester on the night of the 15th, and on the night of the 16th the Sixth Corps and Crook's command were ordered to Clifton via Winchester. In the movement to the react to Halltown the following orders were given to the cavalry and were executed:
HEADQUARTERS MIDDLE MILITARY DIVISION,
Cedar Creek, Va., August 16, 1864.
Brigadier General A. T. A. TORBERT,
Chief of Cavalry, Middle Military Division:
GENERAL: In compliance with instructions of the lieutenant-general commanding, you will make the necessary arrangements and give the necessary orders for the destruction of the wheat and hay south of a line from Millwood to Winchester and Petticoat Gap. You will seize all mules, horses, and cattle that may be useful to our army. Loyal citizens can bring in their claims against the Government for this necessary destruction. No houses will be burned, and officers in charge of this delicate, but necessary, duty must inform the people that the object is to make this Valley untenable for the raiding parties of the rebel army.
P. H. SHERIDAN,
*As recorded in Grant's letters-sent book, this reads, "force them to detach to send this way."